Difference between Application Server and Web Server in Java

 
Application server and web server in Java both are used to host Java web application. Though both application server and web server are generic terms, difference between application server and web server is a famous J2EE interview question. On  Java J2EE perspective main difference between web server and application server is support of EJB. In order to run EJB or host enterprise Java application (.ear) file you need anapplication server like JBoss, WebLogic, WebSphere or Glassfish, while you can still run your servlet and JSP or java web application (.war) file inside any web server like Tomcat or Jetty.

Let’s examine each in more detail.

The Web server

A Web server handles the HTTP protocol. When the Web server receives an HTTP request, it responds with an HTTP response, such as sending back an HTML page. To process a request, a Web server may respond with a static HTML page or image, send a redirect, or delegate the dynamic response generation to some other program such as CGI scripts, JSPs (JavaServer Pages), servlets, ASPs (Active Server Pages), server-side JavaScripts, or some other server-side technology. Whatever their purpose, such server-side programs generate a response, most often in HTML, for viewing in a Web browser.

Understand that a Web server’s delegation model is fairly simple. When a request comes into the Web server, the Web server simply passes the request to the program best able to handle it. The Web server doesn’t provide any functionality beyond simply providing an environment in which the server-side program can execute and pass back the generated responses. The server-side program usually provides for itself such functions as transaction processing, database connectivity, and messaging.

While a Web server may not itself support transactions or database connection pooling, it may employ various strategies for fault tolerance and scalability such as load balancing, caching, and clustering—features oftentimes erroneously assigned as features reserved only for application servers.

The application server

As for the application server, according to our definition, an application server exposes business logic to client applications through various protocols, possibly including HTTP. While a Web server mainly deals with sending HTML for display in a Web browser, an application server provides access to business logic for use by client application programs. The application program can use this logic just as it would call a method on an object.

Such application server clients can include GUIs (graphical user interface) running on a PC, a Web server, or even other application servers. The information traveling back and forth between an application server and its client is not restricted to simple display markup. Instead, the information is program logic. Since the logic takes the form of data and method calls and not static HTML, the client can employ the exposed business logic however it wants.

In most cases, the server exposes this business logic through a component API, such as the EJB (Enterprise JavaBean) component model found on J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) application servers. Moreover, the application server manages its own resources. Such gate-keeping duties include security, transaction processing, resource pooling, and messaging. Like a Web server, an application server may also employ various scalability and fault-tolerance techniques

 

Application Server vs Web Server Summary

1. Application Server supports distributed transaction and EJB. While Web Server only supports Servlets and JSP.
2. Application Server can contain web server in them. most of App server e.g. JBoss or WAS has Servlet and JSP container.
3. Though its not limited to Application Server but they used to provide services like Connection poolingTransaction management, messaging, clustering, load balancing and persistence. Now Apache tomcat also provides connection pooling.
4. In terms of logical difference between web server and application server. web server is supposed to provide http protocol level service while application server provides support to web service and expose business level service e.g. EJB.
5. Application server are more heavy than web server in terms of resource utilization.

 

About Mohaideen Jamil


Am currently working as a Struts 2 Developer in a reputed IT Organisations. I can help you with teaching Core java and Struts 2. Follow me on Facebook or Google Plus. If you like my tutorials, consider making a donation to this charity, thanks.